Charlies Bistro, Charlies Burger
Story + photo by J. Maury Harris
While new to the downtown Vancouver scene, Charlies Bistro feeds off tradition.
Chef and owner, Peter Dougherty of La Bottega, began by paying tribute to his grandfathers – both named Charles. He also focused his menu on old-fashioned American comfort foods, with a smattering of family specialties and a pinch of modern flair.
Recognizable classics like beef wellington, rumaki and buffalo wings grace the menu. But when talking American tradition, nothing trumps a thick hamburger resting on a bed of fries.
To be exact, a half-pound, ground chuck burger in a sesame brioche bun. That’s the heart of the Charlies Burger.
Dougherty’s personalized touch gives it soul – thoughtfulness demonstrated when the melted white cheddar accentuates the roasted poblano pepper. Thick-cut bacon and balsamic caramelized onions help deepen the flavor, while leaf lettuce and organic, hydroponic tomatoes impart a crisp freshness.
Even the house-made mayonnaise brings a more natural texture, rich fattiness and robust flavor.
“The whole is greater than the sum, so to speak,” Dougherty said. “It has a great flavor profile, of which the pepper is probably the most interesting element.”
The pepper’s subtle smokiness adds a rich nuttiness and a smidge of heat that falls in the mild to medium range. To complement the whole, Dougherty adds a side of savory rosemary French fries sprinkled with parsley.
The dish is priced at eleven dollars, but a quarter-pound lunch version saves two dollars.
“The food is definitely the forefront – the driving force behind the restaurant,” he said. “It’s a focus on scratch cooking with fresh, local and organic ingredients whenever possible.”
1220 Main St., Vancouver